Behind The Scenes: Meet Toy Designer David Blakeson
If you've ever wondered what a toy designer does, where they get their ideas from and which toys they'd recommend as the perfect Christmas present, have a read of our interview with GLTC's top toy designer, David Blakeson.
What does an average day in the life of a toy designer look like?
No two days are the same, its one of the things I love most about my job. We are continually developing new products at GLTC. It means that there are always projects at different stages so a day can have a range of very different tasks.
I might spend a morning working on some initial toy concepts for next year. Whilst the afternoon I could be building a prototype with Toni, our toy buyer, ready to sign off before we start production of a new toy.
How long does it take to go from an idea/sketch to a prototype and then to an actual saleable toy?
It takes about a year from an initial idea through to being available on the website. It all starts with initial drawings where we explore lots of different design concepts. During this stage I work very closely with Toni to develop the product idea. We then quite often make cardboard models in the office so we can can test things like scale and function.
Once we have a design we are happy with, I use computer aided design software to make a 3D model of it. From this I create a set of technical drawings which are used to brief the design to our manufacturer. I then design the printed artwork for the product and chose the colours for the product.
Finally, we then receive a series of product samples to carefully review and send for product safety testing before signing off ready for production and product launch.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
We are always trying to think of new toy ideas that encourage interactive, imaginative play in a new and fun ways. We quite often find inspiration from day to day life, for example like enjoying an ice cream at the beach. We translate this into fun and exciting toys which are very easy for children to relate to.
I know you have a young child, are you able to play with him and his toys without analysing how they could be improved?
Seeing how Joshua interacts with toys has given me a totally different perspective on how children play. Naturally because of my job it's something I’m very aware of and definitely something that I think about when designing new toys. That said, Joshua is at an age where he’s into absolutely everything, especially playing - so its very easy to totally switch off and just have fun!
Can you give us any hints about what you're currently working on?
All top secret, I’m afraid. But we have now seen all the prototypes for next years toys. Everyone in the office is very very excited about the new designs. Watch this space!
What was your favourite toy growing up?
I was really into LEGO when I was younger and spent hours and hours building models and creating new ones. It's possibly where my interest in product design started.
And which is your favourite from the current GLTC range?
I love the Star Beans Coffee Shop. It has so much play value with the coffee machine and comes with lots of accessories - perfect for imaginative, interactive play. I got Joshua one for his birthday, I’m looking forward to him making me a cup of tea!
Which toys do you think are going to be popular this Christmas?
1. Sixpence Shop and Theatre: We re-designed this for 2018. It now has distinctly different shop and theatre sides, which gives it long lasting play value – perfect for developing imagination and social skills. There's even a handy storage cupboard for easy tidy up after playtime.
2. Lolly & Scoop: It's packed full of play value and perfect for the development of imagination and social skills. The accessories are great for hand eye coordination with the magnetic scoop and ice creams.
3. Willow Toy Farm: This is a lovely farm, full of accessories to create hours and hours of imaginative play. Along with the farm houses, stables, chicken coop and pond there are even fruit and vegetables which can be sold on the farmers market stall!
4. St Ives Kitchen: This kitchen is perfect for smaller spaces, but is full of the great features we use on our bigger kitchens – including the washing machine, oven, soap drawer, and glowing oven hobs.
5. Turbo Garage: This lovely garage is packed with lots of little details. There's a car wash with moving rollers, a mechanic station for car repairs, petrol pumps which fit in the toy cars. As well as this there is an extra long ramp, perfect for zooming the car down from the top floor!
Finally, what's at the top of your Christmas list, this year?
I’m most looking forward to spending time with my family over Christmas, especially seeing Joshua playing with some of the toys I’ve designed. Aside from this, I cycle to work and am in need of a new bike. A new bike waiting under the Christmas tree this year would be perfect!
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